Moving Materials

by | 15. May 2017

Exhibitions and Events
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Exhibition space. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

By Ariana Zilliacus

Marking the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the island nations of Japan and Denmark, the Danish Architecture Center hosts Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi’s exhibition, Moving Materials. Pioneering in sustainable design and experimentation, Sambuichi’s Moving Materials is an example of how the poetic concept of taking water, air and light, and turning that into architecture, can go beyond just being a romantic idea. Sambuichi demonstrates the value of data and empirical evidence to inform his spatial forms.

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Projections of Sambuichi’s works. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

The minimalistic nature of Sambuichi’s architecture is felt from the first room in the exhibition space; clean, white walls with a succinct black text in Danish, Japanese and English.

“Our role of architecture is to beautifully mainfest the characteristic regional phenomenons of water transformation – from gas to liquid to solid.”
/Hiroshi Sambuichi, founder of Sambuichi Architects

This sets the scene for the Moving Materials, an exhibition of work that is all about processes. Starting out with nature’s process and interconnected flow of materials such as water, and moving onto the architectural process of observing, questioning, researching and experimenting. One is met with a dark room after passing through the entrance, silent but filled with a powerful energy emerging from the three large projections on the walls. Nature in its purest forms plays alongside videos of Sambuichi’s works, including Naoshima Hall on Naoshima Island, Japan, and Inujima Seirensho Art Museum on Inujima Island, Japan. The relationship between the wondrous essence of nature and Sambuichi Architects’ pragmatic analysis is undeniable. Together, they form the sensitive architecture that Sambuichi is known for.

Nature’s purity and simplicity is clear in the exhibit, with the minimal use of images on display. Against the dark walls hangs a series of small photographs of the Japanese Inland Sea, taken from above, accompanying the projected videos. On the other end of the exhibition however, beckons a bright white room. To get there, one must pass through a small blank space, devoid of stimulus, acting as a short breath of air and marking the movement of the visitors, who are reminded that they too are moving materials passing through a spatial process.

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Photo series of the Inland Sea taken from above. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

“I do investigations and experiments, the results of which lead to hypotheses that I take back to the site, and finally I do full-size tests at the site.”
/ Hiroshi Sambuichi, founder of Sambuichi Architects

If the first half of the exhibition was a depiction of nature’s processes, the second half follows Sambuichi’s architectural process. Divided in steps, the exhibit takes visitors through the research, simulations, experiments and mockups that inform Sambuichi’s creative evolution. Raw materials found on site are placed beside refined and artificially coloured computer simulations of wind and water, reflecting the broad range of resources and information explored by Sambuichi Architects.

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Homemade windsock. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

What must be the highlight of the exhibition is the series of experimental models used by Sambuichi Architects, primarily to test airflow in their buildings. All, without exception, smell of the incense used to supply the smoke needed to make the air visible, adding another depth of character to these architectural models. Such subtle sensory experiences give the visitors an unexpected insight and understanding of Sambuichi’s experimental process, without the use of words. This is felt even more so by the pairing of a recent and very polished model, with an early cardboard box prototype. Not only does Sambuichi illustrate that anyone is capable of understanding an environment through experimentation, no matter their resources, but he also very clearly communicates his earnest desire to understand moving materials – even if it means duct taping three cardboard boxes together to create a wind tunnel.

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Homemade cardboard windtunnel. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

Finishing off the exhibition, visitors are met with the entrance room once again – now presented as the exit. This spatial organisation of the exhibition itself is a final reminder of the cycles and processes presented in Moving Materials. Fundamentally, the exhibition is a display of Sambuichi Architects’ deep respect for the natural environment. Romanticising its beauty is meaningless without a practical understanding of the environment’s functions and processes, guiding Sambuichi’s architecture to create structures that become one with the earth.

“For me, the Earth is a mentor and an eternal partner.”
/Hiroshi Sambuichi, founder of Sambuichi Architects
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Wind tunnel model. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

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Wind tunnel model. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

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Map of the Inland Sea. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

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Photo series of the Inland Sea taken from above. Moving Materials, Hiroshi Sambuichi. © Rasmus Hjortshøj

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COUNTRY Denmark

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